What is the imagery and language used in Countee Cullen's poem "Incident?" 

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Countee Cullen's poem "Incident" contains informal and conversational language. Cullen's use of first person ("I") shows the speaker as telling his (assumed to be a male speaker) own story. This first person perspective allows the reader to connect with the speaker (based upon the story-telling aspect of the poem). The story is straightforward and rather mater-of-factly "spoken." 

The imagery of the poem is very different from the language. The true happiness of the speaker ("Heart-filled, head-filled with glee") is shattered by the actions of the little boy he comes into contact with. With one action and word, the little white boy shatters the happiness of the speaker. Through this, an engaged reader can form a mental picture of a radiantly happy child whose life is shattered by a single word of another. Given that the poem's message is based upon something many readers are familiar with, the imagery is poignant, realistic, and immediate. 

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